May warns of long delay to Brexit unless her deal backed

British PM Theresa May’s warned lawmakers that unless they approved her Brexit divorce deal, Britain’s exit from the EU could face a long delay and could involve taking part in European parliament elections in late May, news wires reported. May urged Brexit supporters to ratify her deal before a European Council summit on 21 March or face a delay to Brexit way beyond June 30 that would even open up the possibility that the entire divorce could be ultimately shelved.

The PM bluntly warned that Britain will be forced to take part in European parliamentary elections if there is a longer extension to Brexit talks. “If the proposal were to go back to square one and negotiate a new deal, that would mean a much longer extension – almost certainly requiring the UK to participate in the European Parliament elections in May,” she said in an article in the Sunday Telegraph. “The idea of the British people going to the polls to elect MEPs three years after voting to leave the EU hardly bears thinking about. There could be no more potent symbol of parliament’s collective political failure.”

EU leaders will consider pressing Britain to delay Brexit by at least a year to find a way out of the domestic chaos. After two-and-a-half years of tortuous divorce negotiations with the EU, the final outcome is still uncertain with options including a long delay, exiting with May’s deal, a disorderly exit without a deal or even another referendum. An unlikely but still possible outcome is the UK to be thrown out of the EU on 1 July in case it has agreed to a divorce delay but has not participated in the European elections.

But May continues to fight to build support for her plan, which is expected to put before lawmakers for a third time next week, possibly on Tuesday. To get it through parliament, the prime minister must win over dozens of Brexit-supporting rebels in her own Conservative Party and the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which props up her minority government.

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